Shannon here: Women’s Fiction author, Lynne Gentry shares her real-life romance and a chance to win an e-book download of her debut novel, Reinventing Leona. Comment on any post dated August 15 – 19 for a chance to win. Deadline: August 20th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Lynne:
I knew marrying a minister might change my plans. I didn’t know how much ministry would change my life.
Ours is a love story only a God with a unique sense of humor could write.
I grew up in a Christian farm family. We spent our time either working cattle or attending church. From those experiences, I knew the kind of man I did NOT want to marry…a farmer or a preacher. I wanted no part of the life of continual hardship and sacrifice for very little reward.
So, with stars in my eyes, I set out for the big city, intent on obtaining a theater degree that would prepare me to take Broadway by storm.
Meanwhile, a quiet young man determined to make it big in banking, had his educational course charted toward a degree in business until the Lord called him into ministry.
Then, in steps the Lord … disguised as a mutual friend named Pam.
Pam insisted that I come with her to hear this wonderful young preacher at this small country church out in the middle of nowhere. Country and preacher in the same sentence should have been my first clue. I said no, but Pam sweetened the pot by adding, “They feed the students every Sunday.” So I went.
When I entered the small clapboard church, standing behind the pulpit was the most handsome man I’d ever seen. Lonnie had a brilliant smile that lit up his tanned face, but I refused to be taken in. I sat in the wooden pew, my arms crossed over my heart. When Lonnie started speaking, the passion lacing every word out of his mouth melted my heart. So after church I sidled up to him, only to learn that he had a girlfriend.
Disappointed, yet strangely relieved I’d dodged the bullet of almost falling for a preacher, I threw myself into acting. And I didn’t go back to that dusty country church. By Christmas, I’d landed the lead role in our university’s musical. Little did I know, cute preachers go to musicals.
Lonnie saw me on stage and fell in love. He told Pam that his girlfriend had broken up with him. Did she think I would go out with him? Pam assured him that I would; and then she came and told me that God had the perfect guy for me.
Reluctant to let anything impede my career plans, especially a guy who was going to be a preacher, I avoided Lonnie. But everywhere I turned, there he was. We were like oil and water. Lonnie, reserved with a slow easy smile, never made a move without thinking it through. I was loud, very outspoken, and hated anything involving details.
Finally, in a desperate act to give this preacher the slip, I agreed to ONE date. He picked me up from rehearsal and took me to a Bible study. I sat next to him and noticed that his Bible was neatly underlined in many places with written detailed notes in the margins. Something about a man so in tune with God rekindled the flame I thought I’d doused.
One date after another, we talked of our world views, of family values, and the importance of spiritual things. In the process of falling in love, I began to hear the call of God upon my own life … a call that would require me to choose between the godly man I’d prayed for my whole life or the stage.
Nine months after we began dating we were married. I threw myself into church work, teaching Bible classes, organizing programs, caring for our flocks. Thirty-one years, two kids, and five churches later, I am so glad I married a preacher. But what about those earlier aspirations? Were they forgotten by God?
Now, this is where the Lord’s sense of humor, takes a dramatic turn (which suits me, when I think about it.) Turns out, the Lord had other plans for me all along. God recently called me to take another stab at story-telling, to use my experiences of ministering to hurting people.
But this time the story is His, and the lost world is my stage.
About the book: The pastor’s wife knows that residing in the parsonage is not for sissies, but the thought of living anywhere else scares her spitless.
When her husband drops dead in the pulpit, Leona loses more than her spouse. She loses her best friend, her home, and her entire identity. How does a woman so adrift find the courage to allow God to reinvent her life?
Reinventing Leona released as an e-book at www.tyndale.com in July, 2011.
About Lynne: Lynne Gentry is a new Tyndale author who has also authored numerous short stories and dramatic works. She travels the country as a professional acting coach and inspirational speaker. Lynne lives in Dallas with her husband Lonnie and counts spending time with her two grown children and their families her greatest joy.
Come back August 19th for an excerpt from Reinventing Leona.